Wednesday, February 11, 2009

More on Tuesday & Wednesday in Juarez

I've said this to a few people already. So, forgive the repetition if you've heard it already.

While we were in MN it seemed relatively easy for people to tell us everything would be fine with immigration, and that, of course, we'd come back to MN safe and sound and there wouldn't be any trouble. Unfortunately, once we were in Mexico, the opposite seemed to be true. It was relatively easy to believe that everything would NOT be fine, that immigration could and often did turn people down or, at least, make them remain in Mexico for a period of time before allowing them to enter the states. Within hours of our arrival at the school, Mr. Missionary was telling us stories of people who thought for sure they'd be approved, only to find that they weren't.

He told us he just wanted us to be prepared for the possibility.

I have a lot to say about the way people try to be helpful by preparing you for the worst. I felt, for all the world, like a pregnant woman hearing horror stories of labor and birth. Yes, every pregnant woman knows they could die, that the baby could die, that labor could be REALLY long, and that a whole host of other difficult outcomes exist. The time to tell those stories is not when birth is imminent.

And, here's the other thing: How does it really prepare us for the worst to hear those stories anyway? I mean, of course, we knew that the Embassy could deny Vespera's visa. Having someone tell us so wouldn't lessen our grief if it really did happen that way. Knowing that a baby could die during childbirth doesn't really ameliorate the anguish if it does happen.

In any case, once we were in Mexico any confidence that we might have felt that, of course, everything would be fine quickly fled, leaving the heavy possibility of being turned away at the Embassy in its place. And I had no idea how mentally exhausting the waiting would be.

Each day we went to bed early & got up early. Vespera volunteered a few hours at the school on both Tuesday and Wednesday. We called home each night. If we stood on the roof of the school we got cell phone reception from El Paso. This was one of those blessings that we couldn't measure. It was such a comfort to hear voices from home, to know they were praying, to hear their encouragement.

The school had a little store where we bought candy/dulces and soda. We took a walk around the block the first night, and all the children followed us with their dogs. We were advised to not walk any further, as drugs are a problem almost everywhere in Juarez. People are desperate for money, and we certainly looked like we might have more money than many others in the neighborhood.

And we played soccer and basketball in the school courtyard, trying to burn off the stress and keep ourselves from going stir crazy with the wait.

The school:

Making phone calls from the roof:

The courtyard:

The dorm:

On Tuesday night we discovered Monchis (pronounced much like "munchies"), and we returned there a few times over the next few days, satisfying our craving for authentic Mexican food and some time not spent just wandering around waiting.

Monchis had a bunch of birds, and Vespera was especially fond of this loving pair:

She spent some time sketching the birds in her journal for art class:

We had moments here and there to visit with Mr. & Mrs. Missionary and hear about how their school has grown over time. They started with an empty lot 4 years ago. Now they have a K-6th grade school with 150 students. School is completely free for the students and includes lunch. The school is looking for an English teacher and is planning to expand to include the older grades over time. The missionary couple offered us the apartment over the store if we ended up needing to stay in Mexico for a while before Vespera's immigration could be approved. There would certainly be plenty we could do. We began to see how God placed us somewhere where there were possibilities for us. It almost seemed like a parallel plan in case things didn't work out with the Embassy. It was frightening to think there might be another plan for us. I'll write more about that later. My whole life seems to be a working out of theology, and there was a fair amount of spiritual work going on in all of our lives in that long, long week.


  1. I think people telling you it will be fine, things will work out, is their way of trying to encourage you. It is a way of trying to help calm fears. In saying it, the person KNOWS it might not be, but they hope it will be, and so what comes out is the positive side.
    We can't go through life looking only through rose-colored glasses, but we also can't lose ourselves in the pit of horror stories.
    Being pregnant right now, I totally see the parallels you have. And it's not as tho I don't know things can go wrong, that things can be painful in birth, and that there is the possibility for disaster. But what I want to hear right now from people are words of encouragement. You can get through this. You can do it. Those are the words I will carry with me into labor, the words I repeat to myself when I get discouraged now.

  2. Oh, I totally agree. We spent a fair amount of time telling ourselves it would be fine, even when we didn't know for sure. It was when people started telling horror stories that I just wanted to sit down in the dust and cry. It's hard to find a balance, I think...between being realistic and hoping for the best. It's an awkward place to be.


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